I am working as HR officer in a manufacturing firm. The problem is someone damages the urinal partitions, the wire mesh on windows etc in toilets. We had also to replace flush toilets because of such activities. I am not able to find the culprit as no one claims to see the person. This usually happens during night shift.
Is there any way of finding the culprit so as to put an end to such activities.

From India, Panaji

Address the department concerned whose staff are working in night shifts.
Speak to HOD and ask him to pass message downwards that company property being damaged will cause inconvenience to workers themselves and impact their facilities.
Think in terms of CCTV coverage in the area.

From India, Pune
Dear Yo2487,

Let us try to understand the psychology of the persons who destroy the company property. If employees are destroying company property during night shift then it is a reflection of their frustration. It is also a result of their mental disconnect and they do not identify with the company. There appears to be a huge "us and them" divide.

Workers could be perceiving the management as oppressive. When they are unable to confront the management directly, they are inflicting the losses on the company by destroying the toilet accessories covertly.

Partial reason for this could be the recruitment of ragtag elements of the society. Their uncouthness pops out because they are unable to suppress it for long. Those who work in the night shift, how many of them are paid minimum wages? How many of them are unskillsed, semi-skilled and skilled workers?

One way to change their attitude is training the workers on attitude, ownership, career building etc. However, again this would be treating symptoms rather than the cause. The real malaise is that leadership has failed to be a role model to the employees who are at the lowest rung.


Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore
Dear Yo2487,

This is in addition to what I have written in my previous post. How workers are treated on the shop floor? Does shop floor manager or supervisor abuses the workers? Since they are unable to retaliate, they could be venting their anger by through their destructive activities.

Do you have labour union? Are any labour leaders instigating the employees? Did you take disciplinary action against any worker in the recent past? Try to find is there any pattern in the events.

Do you have well-instituted grievance handling machinery in your company? If yes, then how many grievances came up for hearing in the last financial year? How is the interpersonal environment in the company? Have you conducted any survey on the interpersonal environment at the shop floor?

How frequently top leadership meets the workers?

Mr Nathrao has suggested installation of CCTV camera. In addition to this, your top management may call all the workers and meet them without the presence of Supervisors or Managers (Skip meeting). Let the assurance be given that if they have any grudge against anyone, they can approach HR and not destroy the accessories in the toilet.

Instances of vandalisation of the company property are not new. Not necessarily it happens in manufacturing companies. It has happened everywhere. Software professionals in the software companies have deleted valuable data ensuring that no trace of evidence is left. However, all this bogs down to unaddressed simmering discontent.

From the HR Management standpoint, these are the signs of organisation's culture. Whether the issue is addressed or not, it is time to audit the organisation's culture and fix the cracks.


Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore
Well said Dinesh. The first step ought to be root cause analysis. Besides the treatment of shop floor operators, how is the night shift treated? Any extra privileges/ benefits? Could be as small as a cup of tea and snacks, so maybe there are two breaks, one around midnight and another around 4AM
CCTV in a toilet. Not too sure if that is even allowed.

From India, New Delhi

""CCTV in a toilet. Not too sure if that is even allowed.""
I never suggested CCTVs inside toilet.
The area nearby can be put under coverage so that a general idea of who,when is using the area.
CCTV within toilet area will be a violation of privacy,but outside in general area will be in order.
But CCTV is not a solution of problems.Destruction of property is done by people who are either a vandal by nature or by some one having a grudge or genuine grievance not attended to and therefore releasing his frustration on the property of company.
That needs deeper examination.

From India, Pune
Mr Dinesh sir has pointed out right.I agree to him.organisational culture,commitment and job satisfaction levels needs to be highly leveraged in order to make any organisation a brand and a grand place to work.Root cause of any problem if identified and rectified in time will never allow the problems to occur again.
From India, Vadodara
Dear Sirs,

Thank you all for your replies and valuable suggestions. With respect to Dinesh sirís questions :

1) Contract workers are paid the minimum wages and company workers are paid above the minimum wages as per their respective designation, length of service, etc.

2) The unskilled jobs are performed by contract workers while the semi and skilled ones by regular employees.

3) Regarding to treatment on shop floor Ė there are no instances of abuse as such things are taken seriously. Anyone can complain against an abuser and may directly approach the top boss.

4) There is no labour union. And disciplinary action is taken regarding sleeping on duty, wrong production, improper labellings etc.

5) We have a grievance handling committee where worker representatives discuss their problems with Manager. Such meetings are held quarterly and the points discussed and actions taken to solve the same are sent to the top boss.

I have a feeling that these things are carried out by contract workers. Reason being that we have made strict checking for tobacco, gutka etc. which were carried by the contract workers and is thrown away if found and the said contractor is warned. The unavailability of these things to the addicted may be the main reason for such activity.

I will try to follow the suggestions posted to stop such incidences. Thank you.

From India, Panaji
there must be some disgruntled employees. Normally the employees show their anger either against their superiors or Management . We must have some feedback from loyal employees. Then one can follow such trouble makers and trap them
From India, Chennai
Dear Nancy,

To recover the cost of damaged property, you have suggested to impose fine on all the persons who are working in the night shift. However, by doing this, organisation could be punishing the innocent persons also. This is against principles of natural justice. Indian Labour Laws do not allow salary deductions on assumptions.

Secondly, the risk of imposing the penalty on innocent persons is that their morale will go down since for no fault of theirs they will be penalised. Possibly cost of this depletion of morale would be far higher than the cost of the damage to the property itself. Above all, it will vitiate organisation's culture. In extreme case, more persons could get frustrated and they also could join the bandwagon of the destruction. In such how long organisation can go on punishing the night shift personnel?


Dinesh Divekar

If employees are destroying company property during night shift then it is a reflection of their frustration.Arrange a meeting of the employees who work in the night shift. On a very serious note tell them that if it happens again all of them will be charged heavily for the violence and damage of the company property.and If it happens again fire one of them whom you think is the aggressive and violent one. By doing this you will set an example and for sure the culprit will stop violating the company property.

From India, Bangalore

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